A Heaven Hill Christmas(4)

By: Laramie Briscoe

She got up from where she sat, walked around the table, and had a seat in his lap. “And if that ever happens, I know you’ll be right there to take care of me. I swear to you it’s not going to be like this forever, Layne. I have a deadline on this book and it’s the last one. I’m not signing any more publishing deals. I can’t take the pressure,” she admitted, her voice small in the quiet room. It was as if she was sharing a truth not only with him, but with herself. The sound of the words was rough, like it hurt her to push them out. “I thought it was a big feather in my cap, ya know? It would be the thing that told me I’d made it. But you know what? I’d made it before I ever signed that deal. I hit the USA Today bestsellers list without a publisher or a contract or deadlines; I did that all on my own. Having them emailing me, checking in, checking up, makes me feel like I’m back in Hollywood. It just stresses me out.”

“I knew it,” he palmed the back of her head; slowing working his fingers against her scalp in what he hoped was a soothing motion. It soothed him as much as he hoped it soothed her. “I knew you were stressed.”

“Who wouldn’t be? I’m used to writing on my own schedule, taking the day off when I want to, staying in bed with you if the mood strikes,” she laid her head on his shoulder. “I wasn’t prepared for this and now I have two weeks to get it in to the editor. What I had hoped would be a feather in my cap, has turned out to be a major pain in my ass,” she admitted.

“How much more do you have to do?”

She sighed, not wanting to admit how much work was left. She’d spent the better part of three months trying to figure out who her characters were and the story they wanted her to tell. “I’m half-way done, but I need to do a read-through and I have notes in certain spots where I need to expand. That’s why I was here tonight,” she turned to face him, running her hands along his stubble covered cheeks. “I finally got on a roll and knew if I could just keep going, maybe I’d make a lot of real progress and we could spend Christmas together. I really want to spend Christmas with you and not have to think about this damn deadline,” she let out a soft laugh. “I know that’s a pipe dream, considering how close to Christmas we are now.”

Layne grabbed her chin with his free hand, angling her for a kiss. Their lips met softly, and he let their foreheads linger against one another’s. “We’re gonna be stuck here for a few days, if it doesn’t stop snowing soon,” he warned.

She tried not to think about how it was going to kill her word count, but she did her best to smile. “There’s no one else I’d rather be snowed in with.” In her head, she added if I was done with this damn book. But life didn’t work on just her timetable and it looked like Mother Nature was having a good laugh at her expense.

She just hoped she could get some work done without offending him and without them ending up at each other’s throats while they were snowbound. Any other week of the year, she’d love being stuck with him, would love having all his attention on her, love focusing all her attention on him, too. Truth be told, she’d wanted nothing more while he’d been overseas, but … now wasn’t the time. She had absolutely no time for this if she wanted to make her deadline. She had to get this done and keep her word with the publisher. She knew without a doubt that they wouldn’t be understanding about any delays. If she didn’t turn it in on time they’d have to push back the release schedule and the publisher had already spent tens of thousands of dollars on promo. She did her best to try and not think about what would happen if she blew this. If she didn’t blow this, she was probably going to blow the holiday with her husband.

Try as she might, she didn’t see coming out of this situation a winner either way it went.

That would most definitely take a Christmas miracle.

Chapter Three

Jess cocked her head to the side as she listened to Layne talk on his cell.

“Well, just call us and let us know when it’s safe out there, or when they’ve reopened. We should do all right here,” he glanced at Jess, giving her a wink.

Her cheeks heated at the wink. The heat went straight down her body to the tips of her toes. He’d gotten more handsome over the years as he’d gotten more comfortable in his skin. It’d taken them a long time to get here, where he was relaxed enough with her for the little touches and gestures. They still weren’t where he was completely uninhibited with her, but a Layne that wasn’t selfish with his affection was a sight to behold.